Three years after the introduction of Daniel Craig’s Detective Benoit Blanc and the launch of a new murder mystery franchise Knives Outwriter-director Rian Johnson debuted the sequel, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mysteryon Monday at Los Angeles’ Academy Museum.
Craig (who missed the big LA event due to illness) is back as the renowned detective, but with a new cast and premise — this time following tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) and his friends on a getaway to his private Greek island, where someone inevitably turns up dead.
“I wanted to tell the audience right up front that this was going to be a very different film than the first one, so going from a cozy New England autumn to a Greek beach seemed like a really big, interesting way of doing that,” Johnson told The News84Media of shifting locations for the second film. “Also there’s a rich tradition of vacation murder mysteries like Evil Under the Sun, Death on the Nile, The Last of Sheila, and so tapping into that vein seemed rich. And also, who doesn’t want to go to Greece? I’m no dummy, I wasn’t going to write us in the middle of nowhere.”
While the first film featured a star-studded cast of Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lakeith Stanfield, the sequel gives it a run for its money, featuring Norton, Kate Hudson, Kathryn Hahn, Dave Bautista, Janelle Monáe, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick and Madelyn Cline.
In choosing his casts, Johnson said it’s “a little bit like throwing a dinner party. You’re trying to get people that aren’t just going to be great in the part, but are going to show up and like each other and get along, you’re going to be hanging out as a true ensemble with them.” And speaking of that first film — after Evan’s cable-knit sweater became the true breakout of Knives Outdoes Johnson anticipate any of the sequel’s wardrobe choices to have a similar impact?
“I’d love to say Dave Bautista in his little bikini bottom swimming suit,” Johnson joked, adding, “Blanc has a pretty great swimsuit look that’s kind of a Jacques Tati-style shirt and shorts, that’s blue striped that he wears. with a yellow ascot, which I think is a damn good look.”
For many in the cast, working with Johnson was the main draw of the project, as Hudson said she was “ecstatic, I was so excited” to get the call to collaborate with him as model-turned-fashion-designer Birdie Jay, which she described as “this really hilarious, loud, bold, fabulous, tone-deaf character.” Monáe added that working with Johnson was a dream, as “I always said if I had an opportunity to work with this guy right here, it’s a yes. And then I read the script and it was a hell yes,” allowing her “an opportunity to show some range as an actor, to grow.”
Monáe also gave some insight into the cast bonding time, as they shot in Greece during the pandemic.
“The first time I met everybody was at Daniel’s, he had invited us over to his house to have a little gathering and it just felt like family,” she said. “Everybody was kind of tired of sitting on their couch, eating, in the pandemic, not doing too much work, and I think we were all so happy to be there. It felt like being at a summer camp with theater kids and you just never wanted your parents to come back and pick you up.” Henwick said the off-camera time also turned into “a lot of Mafia games, hosted by Kate or Janelle, which went really well. And we drank a lot.”
As for how this whodunit compares to the first reveal (and with a third Knives Out film already ordered by Netflix), Odom Jr. said this one is simply bigger.
“In a lot of ways, the first one was a surprise to them, the way people took to it, as those things are, and I think Rian, in his desire to delight, was like ‘Oh, ya’ll like this? We can give you more of this,’” he said. “It’s just bigger, and I expect part three will be bigger. He’s going to listen to that feedback group after this one and deliver.”
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery will play in 600 US theaters for one week over Thanksgiving before making its Netflix debut on Dec. 23.
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